Young mum loses eye to cancer after suffering severe headaches

A young mum who lost an eye to cancer has raised more than a thousand pounds for charity after shaving her head, when medics found another tumour.

Cancer sufferer Toni Crews with her plastic radiotherapy mask. Picture: SWNS
Cancer sufferer Toni Crews with her plastic radiotherapy mask. Picture: SWNS

Toni Crews, 29, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer in her tear gland in June 2016 and was forced to undergo surgery to remove it.

And two years later another scan uncovered a cherry tomato-sized tumour behind her socket and she had to go under the knife a second time.

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The mum-of-two from Deal, Kent, was left with a 12-inch scar across the back of her head but is now cancer free after the latest surgery and a round of radiotherapy.

And the former carer has even shaved off all her hair saying she is ‘proud’ to show off her surgery scars.

In 2016 Toni was experiencing blurred vision and severe headaches and went to the opticians - who noticed strange lines on the back of her eye.

She was sent to William Harvey Hospital and told she had adenocarcinoma of the lacrimal gland and needed to have her eye removed.

The surgery was a success and Toni was given the all-clear at a follow-up scan.

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Last year Toni was experiencing a new pain behind her eye socket and a scan uncovered another tumour, which was considerably bigger than the first.

She had to wait seven weeks for surgery and took morphine daily to combat the pain, which she described as worse than childbirth.

After a five-hour operation at London’s Charing Cross Hospital in January this year, Toni was left with a new 12-inch scar across the back of her head.

She bravely decided to shave off her shoulder-length red bob and has been raising money for cancer research while undergoing radiotherapy at Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

During the ten to 15 minute sessions she would have to lie down with a mask strapped over her face.

She said: “It’s completely painless, you just hear a few whirring and buzzing noises.”

The online fundraiser pot has reached £1,030 so far and will be donated to Cancer Research UK.

She said: “Everything went really well and everything seems to be healing well.

“The side affects haven’t seemed to affect me as badly as I expected.

“I’m extremely grateful for all the donations and so pleased and proud of everybody who has helped me raise such a phenomenal amount to hopefully help towards people who are suffering with cancer in the future.”

Although she still needs regular follow up appointments and scans, Toni says she is now looking forward to spending more time with her children.

She says she is proud of her scars - despite the occasional negative reaction from strangers in the street.

Toni said: “I very occasionally get the old pirate noise made at me in the street but I’ve learnt very quickly top brush it off, because nine out of ten people have such a positive reaction to my scars and to my eye patches and it makes me proud of what I’ve done and what I’m doing with my eye patches.

“I’m still so proud of my scars because they show the world what I’ve been through, what I’ve succeeded in and how I’ve conquered cancer, and come out of the other side.

“It’s taught me a lot about how your looks are very temporary and they’re not important.

“Anybody can lose parts of themselves that they deem as being attractive features but what’s really important is how you are on the inside and how you treat other people.

“The only reason I wear the patches now is to protect from the sun, not to cover it up.”

Toni also designs blingy eye patches for herself and others who have also lost an eye.

She launched her Etsy store ‘Bling-k of an eye’ in 2017 and has even taken orders from the US.

Toni uses medical grade patches and decorates them with rhinestones, Swarovski crystals, fabric and paint to produce one-of-a-kind designs.